Life Advocacy Briefing

January 18, 2021

Supreme Court Reverses Telemed Abortion Allowance
Ohio Puts Telemed Abortion Ban into Law / 8th Circuit Setback
Indiana Ultrasound Law Takes Effect / Patients’ Rights Coming to Texas?
Who Will Stand? / Putting First Things First / Which Way Joe Manchin?

Supreme Court Reverses Telemed Abortion Allowance

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HAS REINSTATED THE F.D.A. REGULATION of chemical abortion which requires its prescription only via an in-person doctor visit. The ruling was handed down Jan. 12 in response to a Trump Administration request. It was needed because of a lawsuit by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology and other abortion-lobby plaintiffs seeking to circumvent the Food & Drug Administration’s long-standing limit on dispensing of RU-486; the lawsuit was premised on public safety in the midst of the Wuhan flu pandemic.

Wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, reports Claire Chretien for, “‘I do not see a sufficient basis here for the District Court to compel the FDA to alter the regimen for medical abortion.’”


Ohio Puts Telemed Abortion Ban into Law

OHIO GOV. MIKE DeWINE (R) SIGNED A NEW LAW on Jan. 9 banning doctors in his state from using telemedicine to prescribe abortion drugs.

The law tracks well with federal Food & Drug Administration directives limiting prescription of such chemicals to doctors who meet personally with abortion customers. The new measure is urgently needed in the midst of the Wuhan flu pandemic, as the abortion industry has used “social distancing” dictates to excuse its evasion of that restriction.

Such state laws are urgently needed even with the Supreme Court’s new ruling reinforcing FDA authority to require in-person prescription of RU-486, as the incoming Biden Administration cannot be counted on to maintain the FDA limit on killing babies via chemical attacks. What is done by regulation can be taken away by regulation, but in Ohio, the law will protect against remote-prescribed abortion.


8th Circuit Setback

THE 8th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS EARLY THIS MONTH BLOCKED Arkansas from enforcing two pro-life laws enacted in 2019, upholding last July’s ruling by District Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee. The appellate court is based in St. Louis.

One of the laws bans abortions prompted by prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome; the other outlaws abortions after a baby has gestated 18 weeks, unless the baby was conceived in a sex crime. The cruel and unnecessary rape-incest excuse was also permitted in the Down syndrome protection law.

Said the 8th Circuit, quoted by Nancy Flanders in her Live Action report, “‘Before viability, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy. It also,’” wrote the Court, “‘may not impose upon the right an undue burden, which exists if a regulation’s purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.’”


Indiana Ultrasound Law Takes Effect

INDIANA’s ENHANCED INFORMED CONSENT LAW took effect Jan. 1, four years, notes Live Action’s Nancy Flanders, “after it was initially signed into law.

“The law requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound 18 hours before the abortion is carried out, however she can decline in writing to view the ultrasound image or hear the heartbeat. The law,” notes Ms. Flanders, “allows her 18 hours to reconsider this life-altering decision.”

Planned Parenthood brought suit against the reasonable measure quickly after then-Gov. Mike Pence signed it in 2016. The following year, federal District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law, and an appeals court, notes Ms. Flanders, “upheld that decision. Indiana Atty. Gen. Curtis Hill filed an appeal, and on July 2, the US Supreme Court sent the case back to the federal appeals court to be re-heard,” giving the state a renewed opportunity to make its case.

“Then in August,” writes Ms. Flanders, “Planned Parenthood and the state of Indiana came to an agreement that the preliminary injunction would be vacated on Jan. 1,” and the cartel dropped the suit.


Patients’ Rights Coming to Texas?

WE ADMIT TO HAVING BEEN BAFFLED for some time by the inability of the State of Texas to reform its law permitting hospitals to remove life-sustaining treatment over the objections of a distressed patient’s family. It appears that injustice may be corrected during the legislative session which began last Tuesday. And the US Supreme Court – just in time – has weighed in on the side of patients’ rights in the case of a baby whose death has been sought, since November of 2019, by the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Baby Tinslee Lewis is disabled but alive, and her mother has staunchly fought to preserve her life. Her battle is in a Texas appeals court and was taken by the hospital to the US Supreme Court, which last week rejected Cook’s “preliminary plea,” reports, “to pull the plug. … Her court case struck a massive blow to the anti-Life statute” in the state appellate court, prompting Cook to seek to overturn the decision. Every high court since, including now the US Supreme Court,” notes LSN, “has prevented the hospital from unilaterally removing Tinslee’s life-sustaining treatment over her mother’s objection.”

Now that the Supreme Court has refused to weigh in on the side of the hospital, reports LSN, “the opinion against the 10-day rule still stands, and the case will now return to the lower court for final adjudication on the merits. During trial,” notes LSN, “a judge will consider: Are the rights of Baby Tinslee being violated? Should a hospital have unilateral authority to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment from a patient against the will of the patient/surrogate? Do patients have any due-process rights in these situations? Is the 10-Day Rule of the Texas Advance Directives Act (Sec. 166.046 Health & Safety Code) unconstitutional? …

“If the district court rules in favor of Tinslee,” notes LSN, “the hospital will permanently be disallowed from removing the child’s ventilator and medical treatment against her mother’s will. Additionally, hospitals across Texas could no longer use the 10-Day Rule to hasten patients’ deaths.”

Though the matter is currently pending in court, the Texas legislature also has the opportunity to right a terrible wrong in the state’s statutes, which amounts, notes LSN, to a “countdown placed on patients’ lives.”

The rejection of Cook’s petition by the US Supreme Court “signals to legislators,” writes LSN, that “they should be extremely skeptical of the current law, just like the 2nd Court of Appeals, the governor, the attorney general and dozens of disability rights and faith leaders.”

The report concludes with a call to action summoning Texans to “contact their state legislators … to end the deadly 10-Day Rule to protect patients like Baby Tinslee.” Amen!


Who Will Stand?

Jan. 13, 2021, Blog commentary by Calvin Freiburger, published by

            The primary uses of the propaganda campaign to bully the public into thinking Pres. Donald Trump “incited” the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week are obvious: whip up enough fear and anger at the President to impeach and bar him from running again in 2024, divide Republican officeholders who have kept Trump’s base at arm’s length and create a pretense to expand their war on dissenting social media voices. But there’s one more target that has largely gone overlooked, and it’s slated to descend on the nation’s capital in less than three weeks.

            Friday, Jan. 29, will be the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, an event no stranger to controversy, which will almost certainly face unprecedented opposition in light of last week’s attacks. And this time, that opposition will be bolstered by a contingent of “conservative” and “pro-life” voices who, thanks to NeverTrump groupthink’s impact on the ability to reason objectively, are now endorsing the exact same “logic” that has been used against pro-lifers for years, and will surely be used to demonize and perhaps even try to cancel the March for Life.

            And right on cue, the “logic” goes like this: Even though there was nothing violent about Trump’s speech, it still stokes violence to rail against an alleged injustice (government refusing to address election fraud), which makes people angry, then have those people march to a government building (the Capitol) to protest it.

            If we were to accept this premise, then why wouldn’t it apply with equal force to railing against another injustice (the judiciary illicitly forcing all 50 states to allow abortion), which makes at least as many people angry, then have those people march to another government building (the Supreme Court) to protest it?

            It can’t be that Trump crowds are more violent than pro-life crowds, for the simple fact that a Trump crowd had never turned violent before January 6.

            It can’t be that the underlying causes are different, because executing innocent children on a massive scale for convenience is even more evil – and thus more anger-inducing – than breaking the law to flout democracy. And it can’t be that the incitement accuser recognizes the case against abortion is true but thinks Trump’s stolen-election claims are false, because the credibility of a claim matters precious little to the victim of an extremist who believes it. 

            The fact that pro-lifers were right about partial-birth abortion didn’t slow the Left down one bit in accusing us of complicity in George Tiller’s death. And even after acknowledging how Lin Wood and Sidney Powell tainted the case with shoddy work and bad information, the simple fact remains that it is reasonable to question the integrity of this election, based not on conspiracy theories but based on more than a decade’s worth of extensive coverage of vote fraud – much of it published by the same people now claiming Trump has [uttered] nothing more than “unhinged and poisonous lies.”

            It’s clear that people who know better are going along with this silencing attempt for no better reason than that they wish to be rid of Donald Trump. But as with so many battles of the past four years, it didn’t begin with him and won’t stop with him. Pro-lifers especially should be the first to see through it, and the last to legitimize it.


Putting First Things First

Jan. 11, 2021, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            When all else fails, look to the states. That’s where hope is in abundance. Despite a difficult start to 2021, pro-life leaders are keeping their heads down and focusing on what they can do to affect change. In Kentucky, that’s translated into an encouraging start to the short legislative session, especially where the unborn are concerned.

            While the rest of the country was dealing with the breaking Big Tech news, senators in the Bluegrass state were hard at work on Saturday with their expanded majority, voting 30-5 to send an important bill to Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) desk. With it, the state’s attorney general, conservative Daniel Cameron (R) would have brand-new powers to regulate state abortion centers.

            “I am grateful to Rep. Joe Fischer and House leadership for, on day one of the 2021 session, passing a bill out of committee that will allow our office to act unencumbered and with clear legal authority when an abortion provider breaks the law,” Cameron responded. “It is my job as the chief law officer for the Commonwealth to ensure that abortion providers follow the law and are not given special treatment or blanket exemptions, as they were during the start of this pandemic. I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly on this important measure.”

            If the legislation sounds familiar, it’s because Gov. Beshear vetoed something similar at the end of 2020. Now, despite all of the other issues competing for the state’s attention, senators determined that this pro-life proposal was important enough to make it the first bill passed in the new year.

            Should the governor come to his senses and sign it, Atty. Gen. Cameron would be able to seek “civil and criminal” penalties for any violations of Kentucky’s abortion laws. And thanks to the jumpstart they got on the legislation, pro-lifers made sure that this year – unlike 2020 – they have enough time to override Beshear if he vetoes.

            The same is true of the state’s born-alive abortion survivors bill, which also passed the Kentucky House and Senate over the weekend – with bipartisan support. “The fact that this bill passed in the early days of the 2021 session of the General Assembly is an indicator that, at least in Kentucky, most of our elected officials value life,” Todd Gray, the head of the Kentucky Baptist Convention wrote. “While Gov. Andy Beshear may attempt to veto the bill as he did last year, his efforts will undoubtedly fail, given the bill’s strong support and the veto override power of both Republican-led chambers.”

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: Elections have consequences. So do determined, committed pro-life public officials.]


Which Way Joe Manchin?

Jan. 6, 2021, commentary by National Review columnist Alexandra DeSanctis

            If Jon Ossoff has indeed defeated Republican Senator David Perdue in Georgia, which seems likely as of this writing, the incoming Senate will be split exactly in half between Republicans and Democrats, with Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.

            This state of affairs will make moderate senators in both parties – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin on the left and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on the right – more powerful than they’ve ever been.

            As an increasing number of politicians in his party advocate radical changes such as abolishing the legislative filibuster, expanding Supreme Court and adding new states to the union, Manchin will serve as a crucial, balancing swing vote in the Senate. The incoming House of Representatives is more closely divided than was expected, which might moderate the legislation coming out of the lower chamber, but with two Democratic wins in Georgia, Democratic control of the Senate puts a whole new range of issues within reach for the Left this Congress.

            One area where Manchin has long thwarted his party’s reigning ideology is on abortion. Manchin calls himself pro-life, which tracks well with his state’s brand of Democratic voters; it’s hard to imagine he’d remain popular among West Virginia’s socially conservative Democrats if he ran to the left along with his colleagues.

            Unlike Joe Biden, who also refers to himself as pro-life, Manchin votes like he actually means it. For last session, Manchin earned a 100% rating from the pro-life lobbying group Democrats for Life. Meanwhile, he maintains just a 50% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

            During his time in Congress, Manchin has voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation based on research suggesting that unborn children are capable of feeling pain by that point in development. He has voted twice in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require doctors to care for babies delivered alive after a failed abortion attempt the same way they would treat any other newborn of the same gestational age. Manchin has also voted several times in favor of maintaining conscience protections for pro-life taxpayers so that they aren’t forced to fund elective abortion procedures. He supports the pro-life effort to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

            All of these votes were admirable, especially considering the Democratic Party’s steady march in the opposite direction toward unregulated, federally funded abortion on demand. But in none of those votes was Manchin the deciding factor. When he sided with the GOP on those bills, the measures were either already doomed by lack of sufficient bipartisan support or they had enough support already that his vote wouldn’t be the one to put the measure over the edge.

            That is not to say that Manchin can be expected to abandon his pro-life stance now that his vote appears to matter more. He could very well choose to maintain his support for abortion restrictions and protections for unborn children and taxpayers’ rights, especially given the views of his constituents. But it’s no sure thing.

            Incoming Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) certainly won’t bring major pro-life legislation to the floor, but the Senate could well consider legislation to reject the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing bipartisan policy ensuring that federal welfare funding cannot directly reimburse abortion providers for the cost of abortions.

            Likewise, it remains an open question how Manchin would vote on Pres. Joe Biden’s Cabinet or judicial nominees, including in cases where the picks have demonstrated intense commitment to social progressivism – for example, his choice to nominate California Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra to head the Health and Human Services Department.

            In those cases, Manchin’s long-time pro-life witness would be put to the test, and his choice to stand firm would be especially courageous.

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: In our biennial “Voting Record Index” for the 116th Congress, just concluded, we rated Sen. Manchin’s record “mostly anti-Life.” Much of our Senate index was dominated in 2019-2020 by roll calls we had published on nominations on which lobbying and/or debate had focused significant attention on a nominee’s record concerning abortion policy.  Sen. Manchin voted for only one of the nominees whose confirmations were included in our index. The two substantive measures on which the Senate voted – and then only on procedural motions to end debate, which failed – were an attempt to strengthen and make permanent the Hyde Amendment (in order to protect taxpayers from being forced to underwrite abortions) and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act; in each case, Sen. Manchin did cast votes to end debate so the two substantive pro-life proposals could be debated and voted on. We join Ms. DeSanctis in hoping West Virginia’s senior senator will stand strong for the cause of Life and that he will stand against his party Leader’s likely effort to cripple the Senate’s long-standing filibuster rule.]